I first dipped my toe into the murky pool of Twitter back in 2012. Aside from curiosity, I was hoping to provide a small “value-added” service to my editing and book design clients, most of whom were social media shy and in severe need of marketing help.
I entered slowly, with great skepticism, and with little strategy. Through the years, I’ve come to appreciate the social networking possibilities of Twitter. By design, I’ve garnered a small following that feels manageable. I hear the complaints about Twitter’s wacky algorithms, news byte culture, mindless memes, kitten and kid GIFs, and false information. I agree that these are some of the downsides of the platform.
Yes, it’s easy to see a scathing headline, and in a moment of outrage to hit the Retweet button—the equivalent of Facebook’s infamous share button. What I’ve found is that the more scathing the headline, and no matter the direction—left or right—the more likely the information is partially, if not entirely, untrue. It is particularly tempting to swipe the Retweet button when the Tweet has come from a known and trusted follower. I’m learning to second guess that powerful urge, especially where politics and world affairs come into play.
It’s important to always double check where a flaming headline came from. If it’s a bonafide news link, I may click to read more. But links from 100%FedUp, Being Liberal, Blue State, Left Action, Upworthy, American Free Press, for example, will keep me scrolling. Certain words appear to be a dead giveaway for something fishy:
As many flame on the left as on the right, and rarely are they worth the time to explore. When I find a news source that might be plausible, yet I’m wary about it, I may check its ranking on a site like https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/ . A good quick source to check the validity of a fantastical global rumor is Snopes, which ranks very well as a least biased website.
But for the curious mind, there are upsides to the Twitterverse. I find myself reading articles from a wider range of sources than I did when I relied only upon the sites I’d placed in my Favorites bar. It’s like being in the periodicals section of the library. I have access to:
- The Wall Street Journal
- Christian Science Monitor
- Washington Post
- Sacramento Bee
- Mayo Clinic
- National Geographic
- National Institutes of Health
The most unexpected benefit to my Twitterverse is the personal connections I’ve made with individuals who share my values and interests. I’ve met a host of fabulous writers and photographers who take me around the globe with them. They are kind and supportive. Yes, you could say they are only virtual friends, however when a stranger plunks down money for my just-released book, I call that a substantial relationship. I am actually in awe of how this works. Most of my Facebook contacts know me, either directly or once removed. But my Twitter followers have never looked me in the eye. I’m humbled beyond belief that these people have enough confidence in me to spend money on my words.
Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.
And of course, I must force myself to blatantly market said book. My apologies.